Friday, January 26, 2007

Coming Soon: Peak Extra Light Olive Oil.

This post isn't about crude oil, peak oil, investing, or any of those things, and, as far as I know, this isn't even a market that Boone Pickens is trying to corner, say, like long dated oil futures or water rights in Texas. (But give him a few weeks..)

No, instead, this post is about weight loss, and a wacky, extraordinarily simple method that I came across recently and have been having a good experience with. I wouldn't normally pass on something like this, but it is so simple and appears to be so effective I'm frankly astounded. And like everybody else with a sedentary job and not quite enough time for exercise, I could should lose a few pounds.

It's called the Shangri-La Diet, and a wonderfully short book on it was just released. You don't really need to buy the book though, all the pertinent details are out on the web, and the basic concept can be explained in a couple of sentences.

Before I explain the diet though, let's introduce the author: Seth Roberts is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, with a penchant for self experimentation and some rather novel ideas. You can read some fascinating findings he made by experimenting on himself in the realms of sleep, mood, health and weight in this paper available on eScholarship.

So, more about the diet.

From the introduction to the book:

'Shangri-La? Odd name for a diet. Name of a spa, maybe. I chose it partly because Shangri-La, James Hilton's fictional Himalayan community, was a place of great peace and tranquility; and this diet puts people at peace with food. Within days after starting it, all sorts of food-related struggles (irresistible cravings, too many food-related thoughts, uncontrollable night eating) usually go away. Another reason for the name was that Shangri-La was meant to be a near perfect place and - not to boast - this is a diet with many advantages. It is simple, powerful, and does not require deprivation.'

Hyperbole? From my experience, no. [And for the record, no, I have never bought any bridges in Brooklyn.]

There is no calorie counting involved, no 'off limits' foods, no jogging, no strange Infomercial contraptions destined for a dark corner of your basement, no questionable pills, no meetings, and no expensive, cardboard tasting pre-packaged meals. None of that. (HURRAY!)

Just these very simple instructions:

Once or twice a day, depending on how much you want to lose, you should take in roughly 150 flavorless calories (either sugar or fat) and allow your body 2 hours to absorb them without any other foods/flavors.

Specifically, you either take one-two tablespoons of flavorless oil, either extra light (Note: not extra virgin, extra LIGHT) olive oil (referred to as 'ELOO' in his book) or canola oil, or 1-3 tablespoon fulls of ordinary table sugar mixed in water. You must take this on it's own, and you cannot eat anything for one hour before or after. Nothing. Plain water is okay though.

By ingesting these flavorless calories you are resetting your body weight set point, lowering it. It sounds... nuts. (Prompting no craving with me, by the way. Ice cream.. Nothing. Come up with a food - I dare you. I won't crave it.) If you want more detail on the concept, follow the links below or take a look at the book.

If your experience is similar to mine (and the author of the diet, and other people on line) you will notice after a few days that your food fullness meter has reset itself a few notches lower and you will magically (and effortlessly!) find yourself eating less at meals. Your between meal cravings go away also. And the weight will start to come off.

It is, in a word - mind boggling. Okay, in two words. Which is why I thought I'd take the time to share it.

You can read more details about this diet at the links below:

Website of the author, Seth Roberts.
Science behind the diet.
An interview with the author (mp3 format).
The Wikipedia entry (You may want to review the cons in the footnotes).
A detailed explanation from Calorie Lab.
Another blogger comments on his experience with the diet.
The book, The Shangri-La Diet at Amazon.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming..


Update: I meant to add this when I did the original post but I forgot, so I'm adding it a little later. In my experience, I also need to avoid coffee for several hours before the oil. If I have coffee say 2 hours before, it seems to send my blood sugar bouncing around at just the wrong moments and negate much of the effect. This is particularly noticeable at the beginning, I think.